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Best MTB shoes 2022: The finest off-road footwear from just £54

Take your trail-riding to the next level with our pick of the best flat and clipless MTB shoes money can buy

The best MTB shoes provide that all-important interface between man/woman and machine. They enhance one of the key contact points where body meets bike, providing grip, control and tactile feedback from the trail. Depending on which ones you buy, they can also do things like increase power-transfer efficiency for XC riding, help you to walk comfortably on hike-a-bike sections, or simply keep feet gripping firmly for gnarly downhill descents.

Which MTB shoes will work best for you depends largely on your local conditions and style of riding. The best shoe for XC riding, for example, is going to be different to the best shoe for trail or gravity riding. Each discipline has its own unique set of requirements, which makes picking the right footwear that little bit trickier.

To help you get it right, we’ve rounded up six of the best MTB shoes, covering both flat and clipless options. We’ve only featured the best of the best and there’s something to suit every type of rider and level of budget.

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Best MTB shoes: At a glance

How to choose the best MTB shoes for you

What’s the difference between flat and clipless MTB shoes?

There are two key types of MTB shoe: flat and clipless. Flat shoes are exactly what they sound like. They feature a flat sole that sits loose on the pedal, usually made from a grippy compound that helps the pedal studs keep them steady. They’re often preferred for gravity-based riding, as they allow the rider to quickly drop a foot when cornering if need be.

Somewhat confusingly named, so-called clipless pedals work in tandem with a special type of pedal and cleat system that locks the foot in place. The term comes from the fact that pedals of yesteryear featured an over-the-toe ‘clip’ to keep the feet in place. Clipless pedals do a similar job, but without the need for the clip. Simply stamp down to lock in and flick the heel out to disengage. They’re popular for XC riding in particular, as they allow the rider to utilise the entire pedal stroke by pulling up as well as pushing down. This means increased power output, which in turn means more speed when climbing or on the flat.

Should I buy lace-up MTB shoes?

Flat MTB shoes tend to feature traditional laces while clipless shoes often use more modern closure systems like BOA dials, velcro or ratchet straps. BOA dials are great as they allow the fit to be (quite literally) dialled in quickly in small increments, whereas laces can be more of a faff. That said, many riders still prefer laces over anything too fancy simply because they’re straightforward and extremely easy to replace.

Should I buy waterproof MTB shoes?

That depends on the season and your local conditions. Waterproof MTB shoes are great in wet winter conditions, but the lack of breathability means that feet can easily overheat and make shoes wet from the inside instead. It’s a good idea to have a pair on standby for the colder, wetter months, but it’s better to run non-waterproof footwear when it’s warm and dry.

The best MTB shoes you can buy in 2022: Clipless

1. Fizik Infinito X1: Best XC MTB shoe

Price: £199 | Buy now from Merlin Cycles

Stiff, durable and fast, these carbon-soled clipless shoes from Fizik are brilliant for high-octane XC riding when power and control are key. They feature a dual BOA-dial closure system with a figure-of-eight lacing pattern (Infinito – get it?) that does an excellent job of securing the foot while allowing adjustments to be made to the forefoot and ankle separately. The rubber uppers are extremely tough and feature thick reinforcements in high-wear areas like the toe and the heel. They’re super stiff so perhaps not the easiest MTB shoes to walk in but if what you want is maximum power and minimal flex, there are few shoes better equipped to deliver.

Key specs – Closure system: Dual BOA; Outsole: Carbon with rubber studs; Weight: 294g (size 42)

Buy now from Merlin Cycles

2. Shimano ME7: Best clipless trail MTB shoe

Price: £162 | Buy now from Sigma Sports

At 380g, these bullet-proof trail-riding kicks are some of the heaviest clipless shoes out there, but who cares about a few extra grams when you’re blasting down root-riddled woodland descents with unparalleled levels of control thanks to a stiff (yet torsionally flexible) sole unit and foot-hugging fit. Shimano has got the balance of comfort and stiffness just right here, meaning you won’t feel like you’re losing unnecessary watts when pushing those pedals, but equally won’t be struggling to walk when an unrideable section of hike-a-bike presents itself. The lace cover is a nice touch too, keeping splashes of dirt, mud (and worse!) safely sealed out. Granted, it’s not going to stop water coming in, but it’ll happily shrug off splatters from the odd muddy puddle.

Key specs – Closure system: Pullcord and ratchet strap; Outsole: rubber; Weight: 380g (size 42)

Buy now from Sigma Sports

3. Specialized S-Works Recon: Stiffest MTB shoe

Price: £289 | Buy now from Sigma Sports

From one of the heaviest clipless shoes to one of the lightest… and most expensive. Yes, this is a pricey piece of kit, but if you’re a speed-obsessed XC rider with deep pockets, there’s no better shoe out there for you to splash out on. The closure system is a super-smooth dual-BOA that allows adjustments to be made on the fly, and the stiff carbon sole maximises power output for increased speed and control. In addition to the BOA dials, there’s a velcro strap to the forefoot, which makes it easy to adapt the shoe’s fit to work for broader feet. Put simply, this is the best XC MTB shoe on the market in terms of sheer performance, the only question is whether or not you can stomach the price tag.

Key specs – Closure system: Dual BOA; Outsole: Carbon with rubber studs; Weight: 270g (size 42)

Buy now from Sigma Sports

The best MTB shoes you can buy in 2022: Flat

4. Adidas Five Ten Freerider Pro: Best flat MTB shoe

Price: £91 | Buy now from Wiggle

Five Ten is Adidas’ line of MTB kit and it’s home to some of the best flat shoes on the market. King among them is the iconic Freerider Pro: a simple shoe with a famously grippy sole that’ll last for ages and won’t break the bank. This shoe has a well-earned reputation in the MTB community as the best flat shoe money can buy. It’s a trail-riding staple and a benchmark in terms of performance, versatility and looks. The Stealth S1 sole clings onto flat pedals better than any other compound we’ve come across, while providing good grip for walking and excellent protection. If you’re looking for a does-it-all shoe at a reasonable price, it’s difficult to imagine why you’d buy anything else

Key specs – Closure system: Lace-up; Outsole: Rubber; Weight: 390g (size 42)

Buy now from Wiggle

5. Shimano GR5: Best budget MTB shoe

Price: £54 | Buy now from Sigma Sports

You don’t have to drop megabucks to get a highly capable flat MTB shoe that grips the pedals, protects your feet and helps you hike when the need arises. The GR5 is a lot of shoe for a relatively small amount of money, which will suit budget-conscious mountain bikers looking for an affordable option that can stand up to daily abuse. The sole is surprisingly tacky for the money, with an almost smooth section to the forefoot for the studs to bite into, and treaded heel and toe sections to aid grip when you need to get off and push. The fit is nice and wide, which will suit broad-footed riders, and overall value for money is the best of any shoes we’ve ridden.

Key specs – Closure system: Lace-up; Outsole: Rubber; Weight: 350g (size 42)

Buy now from Sigma Sports

6. Adidas Five Ten Trailcross GTX: Best waterproof MTB shoe

Price: £143 | Buy now from Start Fitness

British conditions tend to be pretty wet and muddy for the majority of the year, which places waterproofness quite high up on many riders’ lists of features they look for in a shoe. This mid-top shoe from Five Ten incorporates a Gore-Tex liner that blocks water droplets from entering while still allowing water vapour to escape. This means they’re breathable, but also totally waterproof. The relatively thick sole won’t be for everyone, but we love the extra protection and support it offers during the winter months. It’s reasonably stiff while still comfortable enough to walk in, and the Stealth rubber sole sticks to pedals nicely and grips well even on wet ground. Buy this shoe if you’re looking for a weatherproof winter trail shoe that’ll keep you warm, dry and riding at your best all winter.

Key specs – Closure system: Lace-up; Outsole: Rubber; Weight: 425g (size 42)

Buy now from Start Fitness

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